Thank you for your questions. I will pick up your words to take “proper time” over this. I think the Government should take proper time over the whole of the Bill. In potentially rushing it through, we could end up with a piece of legislation that is not doing what the Government set out for it to do, which is to close a loophole in the law.
Far from it, it could be putting in place a piece of legislation that exacerbates loopholes and gives perpetrators the opportunity to say, “Well, do you know what? I was only doing it for financial gain. I wasn’t doing it to harass the victim or for sexual gratification. I was simply doing it so that I could get 100 quid from an online site. I didn’t even know the name of the victim, so I couldn’t have been harassing them or humiliating them, and I certainly wasn’t getting sexual gratification from the images.” In rushing this through, for the best possible motives, we may end up with a piece of legislation that does not close that gap.
On amending the Bill to cover distribution, I say to Mr Thomson that following the introduction of the Scottish Act, a piece of catch-up work had to be done. As I mentioned, a piece of legislation had to be passed in 2016 to close the gap created by the fact that the original Act did not cover distribution. Perhaps I will point the Committee towards some further evidence here. The Bill is very much founded on what was put in place in Scotland in 2012. A lot has happened since then to the way the online world works and the way other countries deal with exactly the same problems with regard to images.
I am somewhat surprised that the Government do not want to look at precedents other than Scotland to get a better solution. For instance, why would the Government not want to look at what is happening in New South Wales, where a law was introduced that covers all intimate images that are taken and potentially distributed? Why would they not look at the Irish commission’s proposal, which again establishes a core offence and, rather than focusing only on upskirting, includes all intimate images that are distributed non-consensually? My question is: why Scotland? Why not try to do a proper job and look at what other countries have done far more recently?